The Voice: Feedback Matters!

This is the last of my blogs on The Voice, a television show I love for both personal and professional reasons. On the personal side, I’m a major live entertainment fan, with a leaning towards helping others, (I believe being the eldest of seven is the influence here). Plus, the blind auditions speak to fairness and diversity, values that are important to me.

On the professional side, The Voice is ultimately about growing skills through coaching, and incorporating coaching feedback to create performance excellence. And this is exactly what I do with and for public speakers.

The voice #4 preferredWhen it comes to feedback, how you say what you say matters. This is important in one-to-one coaching, but matters more when speaking to the masses, both live and remote. For example, if one of The Voice coaches says, Super-great job! and another says, Really excellent performance! the feedback and meanings are similarly positive. However, if a coach says: I don’t know what to say, actually — of course you know you have a great voice, but I wanted to see more of what you did last time, this is very different from: Your voice is spectacular – whether singing a gospel, show tune or rock and roll. I’m such a big fan of yours. I believe if you want your talent to win, the second choice is the wiser.

Of course I appreciate spontaneity and the coaches’ authentic expression of how they feel, but I do wonder about the unconscious impact of their comments on the viewers and on the voting. A coach’s comment to a viewer could be the tie-breaking, tipping point for making his or her decision: i.e., I can’t choose between X and Y, but Blake, (Gwen, Adam, Pharrell) said…

My message is this: If coaches are competing to have their team members win, televised, coaching feedback should be authentic, conscious, and strategic. When delivering feedback before mass media audiences no matter what the performance type, consider these guidelines:

Eliminate negative words, even when making a positive point: (That wasn’t my favorite performance of yours but you were awesome, as always; vs. You were awesome! This performance shows your range of talent).

Give your overall impression first; details second! (The way you engaged the audience was hot and that gravel tone you have is unique; What a great performance! vs. What a great performance; the way you engaged the audience was hot and that gravel tone you have is unique).

Avoid hesitation and lengthy pauses. Ah, wow…..uh….that was really special vs. Wow! that was really special.

In summary, coaches’ word choice, sentence order and tone, (in addition to their speech rate, posture, facial expressions and personalities), subliminally impact mass media audiences.

Food for thought? Feedback welcome.